10 Jul
Safest Sex

Dear TMH,

I’m 20 years old, employed and in a committed, monogamous relationship with a wonderful man. I’m also a virgin. My relationship is getting to a point where that’s likely to change, but there’s a problem. My boyfriend is incredibly patient, understanding and supportive. He insists on waiting at least three months after I start taking “the pill.”

Even so, I’m terrified of getting pregnant. It seems everywhere I look, someone’s getting knocked up: My sister, my best friend, my co-workers, and all unintentionally. I figure, if accidents can happen with them, why not me? I desperately don’t want to have children. There’s not a maternal bone in my body.   So I have to ask: is there any way to be sure, short of abstinence, that I won’t get pregnant? And, if not, is bringing sex into an already happy relationship worth the risk?

Signed,

Cautious

_____________

Dear Cautious,

I am not a fertility specialist, but short of entering into a same-sex relationship, there is no way to guarantee that having sexual intercourse will not result in pregnancy.

In case you are not ready to trade in your boyfriend for Angelina, let me reassure that I’ve been where you are.   Women I knew were getting pregnant “by accident” left and right and I was very concerned that, as the older generation likes to refer to it,   “there was something in the water.”

Finally, one friend fessed up that while her official response to inquiring minds was that “no birth control is foolproof,” the truth of the matter was that they did not use any. Huh.

There are plenty of birth control choices that, if used properly, have very high effectiveness rates.   I myself have been having sex for years, decades even, and have been unplanned-pregnancy-free.   All thanks to birth control and celibacy.   But mostly birth control.

If you are especially nervous, why not double up on the birth control, like the pill and condoms, or double condoms.

I recommend that you discuss your concerns with your health care provider, or the wonderful people at Planned Parenthood.   They will be able to best guide you through the birth control choices and/or have you fitted for a chastity belt.

Whatever you decide, good luck.   And congratulations for being so responsible.

Marinka, TMH

11 Responses to “Safest Sex”

07.10.09#1

Comment by Andrea.

I am a pharmacy student and I agree – double up on the birth control if you do decide to bring sex into your relationship. Nthing available is 100% effective other than abstinence. I say that your bf is right, too – wait at least 3-6 months once you start the pill or any other birth control (NuvaRing, Mirena, etc). It takes that long to be sure your body is used to the controlled level of hormones. When that time has passed, I still say have him use a condom just to give you the added protection. If worst comes to worst, you can always use Plan B…it is mighty effective too. But don’t use Plan B as a form of contraception – it is there “just in case”. Any pharmacy will sell it to you as long as you are over 18 – you just have to ask for it at the counter. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

07.10.09#2

Comment by Ali.

My good friends in college doubled up on birth control — and yup, still got pregnant. So, even with that, it still happens.

Long story short, if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex.

07.10.09#3

Comment by The Laughing Idiot.

You never know what your body is going to do. My sister got pregnant by accident twice; whereas, I had to use fertility drugs – go figure!

07.10.09#4

Comment by Erin G.

I’m pregnant on the pill right now. (3 more months to go.) I assume if you’re comfortable enough to have sex with this man, you’d be comfortable raising a kid with him, even if you’re not ready. because that MIGHT happen.

If your world would end in the case that you and this man made a baby, don’t have sex yet.

07.10.09#5

Comment by Aludra.

I’m married and my husband and I both dislike the idea of having kids. The only reason we haven’t bit the bullet and had a surgery to prevent it is because we’re still so young and it’s not reliably reversable. Instead we are doubling up. Condoms and pills. 4 years later still no children. Knocking on wood now.
Aside from the baby thing, there are other reasons to stay celibate until you’re really ready. Sex is an obsession at first, so if you’re still in school, it will be an enormous distraction. Just an FYI that no one seems to mention.

07.10.09#6

Comment by K-Line.

OK, I think the likelihood of getting pregnant on one – much less 2 – forms of birth control is negligible. I know 6 people who can’t get pregnant despite all kinds of intervention – they’re no more the status quo than this writer’s unintentionally pregnant friends.

What I would suggest is getting more in touch with your own body and cycles. I don’t recommend the pill because some potential side effects are crap (depression, loss of sexual interest). Those aren’t hypothetical for me, they were the reality. What you learn when you start charting your cycles (sympto thermal method) is that you are only fertile when you’re fertile. Abstain from sex then. I’m making this sound very simple, it’s not of course, it’s takes a while to understand one’s body as well as one must to undertake this method. A broken condom won’t yield pregnancy if you’re having sex at the time of the month that isn’t fertile.

I’ve been using this method for 12 years. I got pregnant after one try (on the basis that I knew when I was fertile). I’ve never been pregnant before or since.

Note: I’m not recommending that you chart/ record your daily basal temp without using another barrier method. If pregnancy is so concerning, double up.

I just don’t think the same kind of fear will be there if you understand how your body experiences its fertility.

07.10.09#7

Comment by Inna.

I say wear condoms all the time. Just don’t wear 2 at the same time. This causes the condom to actually break easier. They were made to be worn ONE at a time.
I did the pill and condom combination for a while, not pregnant yet!

07.10.09#8

Comment by Andrea's Sweet Life.

What ever you do, don’t use the “withdrawal” method of birth control because, technically, that’s NOT birth control that’s russian roulette.

07.10.09#9

Comment by suburbancorrespondent.

I’m with Erin on this one – if this person isn’t someone to raise a baby with, don’t have sex. Sex is not the be-all and end-all of a relationship.

Also, that not having a maternal bone in your body thing? That’s what post-partum hormones are for. At least in my case…when I first got pregnant, I tried to convince my boyfriend that we give the baby (his baby) up for adoption, because I didn’t like kids. He wisely wouldn’t agree. We’re married now, with 6 children. And happy.

07.10.09#10

Comment by Heather.

I can think of two types of sex you can have without getting pregnant.

07.11.09#11

Comment by Steph.

Certain things can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Taking antibiotics, for example. Or missing pills, which I used to do regularly (and STILL didn’t get pregnant).

But I agree with Marinka, most people that claim to have “accidentally” gotten pregnant really just don’t want to fess up to their irresponsibility.

I once had to explain to my “accidentally” pregnant sister-in-law that putting a condom on two yards before the touchdown is not an effective line of defense.

Then when she scratched her head at my obscure analogy, I told her that the freaking condom needs to be worn from start to finish. DUH!!!

It’s not an “accident”. It’s stupidity.

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